Home | TNPSC Micro Topics | Advent of Gandhi and Mass Mobilisation – Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

Advent of Gandhi and Mass Mobilisation – Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms

Edwin Montagu and Chelmsford, the Secretary of State for India and Viceroy respectively, announced their scheme of constitutional changes for India which came to be known as the Indian Councils Act of 1919. The Act enlarged the provincial legislative councils with elected majorities. The governments in the provinces were given more share in the administration under ‘Dyarchy.’ Under this arrangement all important subjects like law and order and finance ‘reserved’ for the whitemen and were directly under the control of the Governors. Other subjects such as health, educations and local self-government were ‘transferred’ to elected Indian representatives. Ministers holding ‘transferred subjects’ were responsible to the legislatures; but those in-charge of ‘reserved’ subjects were not further the Governor of the province could overrule the ministers under ‘special (veto) powers,’ thus making a mockery of the entire scheme. The part dealing with central legislature in the act created two houses of legislature (bicameral).

The Central Legislative Assembly was to have 41 nominated members, out of a total of 144. The Upper House known as the Council of States was to have 60 members, of whom 26 were to be nominated. Both the houses had no control over the Governor General and his Executive Council. But the Central Government had full control over the provincial governments. As a result, power was concentrated in the hands of the European / English authorities. Right to vote also continued to be restricted.

The public spirited men of India, who had extended unconditional support to the war efforts of Britain had expected more. The scheme, when announced in 1918, came to be criticized throughout India. The Indian National Congress met in a special session at Bombay in August 1918 to discuss the scheme. The congress termed the scheme ‘disappointing and unsatisfactory.’

The colonial government followed a ‘carrot and stick policy.’ There was a group of moderate / liberal political leaders who wanted to try and work the reforms. Led by Surendranath Banerjee, they opposed the majority opinion and left the Congress to form their own party which came to be called Indian Liberal Federation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *